The hype cycle and tipping-point technologies

In studying the latest hype cycle for emerging technologies chart, published last week by IT industry analysts Gartner, there’s much to absorb as you review what Gartner sees as the common patterns of overenthusiasm, disillusionment and eventual realism that accompanies each new technology and innovation.


For its 2012 report on emerging technologies, Gartner says it focused on tipping points, examining the technologies in sets or groupings because so many new capabilities and trends involve multiple technologies working together. Often, says Gartner, one or two technologies that are not quite ready can limit the true potential of what is possible.

Here’s how they give some clarity to this concept:

“The smarter smartphone is a case in point. It’s now possible to look at a smartphone and unlock it via facial recognition, and then talk to it to ask it to find the nearest bank ATM. However, at the same time, we see that the technology is not quite there yet. We might have to remove our glasses for the facial recognition to work, our smartphones don’t always understand us when we speak, and the location-sensing technology sometimes has trouble finding us.”

That makes it a lot easier to grasp the quite complex information in this hype cycle, where considering the location on the cycle of a single technology isn’t necessarily the best way of getting complete meaning from what you’re studying.

As Gartner says, once these technologies mature is when the scenario can come together from a technology perspective.

Take the tech at the peak of inflated expectations, for example – what’s been getting all the buzz over the past year to propel it to the top of Gartner’s list of the most-hyped technologies.


There’s quite a collection – including BYOD (“bring your own device“), HTML5 and private cloud computing – that Gartner has grouped together as “Any Channel, Any Device, Anywhere – Bring Your Own Everything”:

The technology industry has long talked about scenarios in which any service or function is available on any device, at anytime and anywhere. This scenario is being fueled by the consumerization trend that is making it acceptable for enterprise employees to bring their own personal devices into the work environment. The technologies and trends featured on this Hype Cycle that are part of this scenario include BYOD, hosted virtual desktops, HTML5, the various forms of cloud computing, silicon anode batteries and media tablets. Although all these technologies and trends need to mature for the scenario to become the norm, HTML 5, hosted virtual networks and silicon anode batteries are particularly strong tipping point candidates.

Other tipping point groupings include:

  • Smarter Things: Technologies and trends that are the tipping points to success include machine-to-machine communication services, mesh networks: sensor, big data, complex-event processing and activity streams.
  • Big Data and Global Scale Computing at Small Prices: A world in which analytic insight and computing power are nearly infinite and cost-effectively scalable.
  • The Human Way to Interact With Technology: Stand-outs as tipping point technologies include natural-language question answering and NFC.
  • 3D Print It at Home: Combined with 3D scanning, it may be possible to scan certain objects with a smartphone and print a near-duplicate. Analysts predict that 3D printing will take more than five years to mature beyond the niche market.

Read more in Gartner’s August 16 press announcement “Gartner’s 2012 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies Identifies “Tipping Point” Technologies That Will Unlock Long-Awaited Technology Scenarios.”

For detailed information and analysis, you’ll need to purchase the report itself.

  • The “Emerging Technologies Hype Cycle” is one of over 90 such reports Gartner publishes each year that analyse 1,900 innovations in many different technologies. The hype cycle graphic was created in 1995.

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Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

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